Wednesday, November 26, 2014

With zero savings, majority of Malaysians face dire straits in emergencies


The majority of Malaysians will likely struggle in the event of income emergencies as they have no financial assets and no banking or financial account of any kind, the Malaysia Human Development Report 2013 revealed.
More than half or 53% of Malaysian households have no financial assets, while one in three Malaysians do not have an account, the report commissioned by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) said.
Rural households have the highest number of those without any financial assets (63%), compared to 45% of urban households, and by ethnic group, Bumiputera and Malays chalked up the highest figures as those without such assets.
“Among ethnic groups, about 57% of non-Malay Bumiputera and 55% of Malays have no financial assets, with the figure for the Chinese and Indians at 45% and 44% respectively,” read the report which was released in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.
“In other words, roughly one out of two Malays, non-Malay Bumiputera, Chinese and Indians have no immediate liquid financial assets, making them vulnerable in the event of an income or employment shock.”
One in three Malaysians also had no banking or financial account, while among the bottom 40%, the figure was much higher, at 50%, said the report.
“In other words, one out of two low-income Malaysians do not have any financial accounts. Access to formal credit (or lack thereof) may also be the reason for the absence of financial assets,” it said.
The report stated that while Malaysia recorded a relatively high gross national savings rate, the bulk of the savings came from the corporate sector.
Citing figures from the Household Income Survey (HIS), the report also noted that nearly 90% and 86% of the rural and urban households, respectively, had no savings, while the majority of households at 88% had zero earnings from their savings.
Meanwhile, 57% of Malaysian households reported zero earnings from investments, with the figure for urban households at 50% and rural households at 66%, according to figures derived from dividend income earned.
The report did not take into account forced savings, such as the Employees Provident Fund (EPF), as households do not have access to such savings in the event of immediate income or employment shock.
But a breakdown of data from EPF savings as at 2013 showed equally worrying information: 90% of Malaysians nearing retirement age did not have enough funds to sustain a basic lifestyle for more than five years.
“Data from EPF shows that as at end of 2013, about one-fifth of Malaysians who are nearing retirement age (between the ages of 51 and 55) have less than RM20,000 in savings, while nearly 70% of those at the age of 54 have savings less than RM50,000.
“In other words, assuming a monthly expenditure of RM900 per month, the savings of the former could sustain their basic lifestyle for 1.8 years, while for the latter, the figure stands at 4.6 years.”
Though alarming, neither the low amount of financial assets or EPF savings were surprising, the report noted.
It also explained that the low EPF savings were due to the fact that the majority of Malaysians earned low wages.
“The monthly wage distribution from EPF shows that in 2013, one-third, or 2.1 million, active members earn less than RM1,000, slightly more than three-quarters (76.8%) earn less than RM3,000, and about 90% earn less than RM5,000 a month.
“As expected, the inequality in compulsory savings is rather extreme, where the top 1.7% of depositors in EPF has more savings than the savings of the entire bottom 57% combined,” added the report.
The authors said that the lack of financial assets, especially for the bottom 40%, severely limited their ability to borrow, invest, save and improve their economic opportunities.
The report was written by Tan Sri Datuk Dr Kamal Salih, an adjunct professor of Economics and Development Studies at Universiti Malaya (UM); Dr Lee Hwok Aun, from the UM Department of Development Studies, and Dr Muhammad Khalid of the Khazanah Research Institute.
The report was published for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and was sponsored by both the UNDP and the Economic Planning Unit which is under the Prime Minister's Department. – November 26, 2014.
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Why rich Malaysians are very rich and the poor, very poor


Last updated on 24/11/2014 - 09:07
23/11/2014 - 09:30     

OUTSPOKEN: The Umno-led BN government continues to paint Malaysia as a thriving socio-economic nation despite the statistical reality that points to a "not all-is-dandy" outlook.
How can the economic and financial outlook be all dandy when the global economy is faltering and struggling?
Furthermore, Malaysia's economic and fiscal policies have only widened the gap of the rich and poor since Merdeka in 1957.
Officially, the country’s federal debt is at RM568.9 billion or 52.8 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) as of June. 
However, economists believe the figures and statistics had not included other hidden debts.
Former International Trade and Industry Deputy Minister Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir had “accidentally” revealed in 2012 that the federal debt stood at RM800 billion or more than 70 per cent of GDP, way above the 55 per cent federal debt ceiling.
Anas Alam Faizli, who blogs at Blindspot, has recently taken pains to compile damning statistics that should awaken those blinded by BN's propaganda that all is well for Malaysians.
Anas' two questions, backed by statistics:
•    How does it feel to be in a high income nation that Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Idris Jala is talking about? In 2008, two states in Malaysia surpassed the World Bank Threshold to become “High Income” states – Kuala Lumpur and Sarawak. High Income nation through GNI/capita? In numbers and papers only or a holistic high income nation that prospers?
•    Malaysia’s Gini Index did not move at all in 20 years.
Malaysia is the third most unequal nation in Asia! We have the third biggest gap between the rich and poor. We are worse off than the Philippines, Thailand and even Indonesia. Our rich are very rich and our poor, very poor! Income inequality is bad and has to be addressed. Are we talking and thinking about this enough? Do you understand this as an issue or not? Please discuss. For 40 years, the gap between rich and poor did not change much! What happened?
In short, this has exposed how Malaysians have fallen prey to a skewered economic policies that will only result in misery when a global financial and economic crisis makes a comeback.
The question is, when will the bubble economies start bursting globally?
To quote Anas: “That's high income nation but low income population. To paraphrase, Rich Malaysia, poor Malaysians and why is that so?”
Malaysians already know the answer because they can clearly see who the rich and super rich are and who the poor and very poor are.
The rich and super rich are those with the right political connections and the poor and very poor are those who have to work day and night to put food on the table for their family and loved ones.
The recent case of the six major banks fined a record total US$4.3 billion (RM14 billion) for foreign exchange rate-rigging tells all.
When banks, such as HSBC, Royal Bank of Scotland, Swiss bank UBS and US banks JP Morgan Chase, Citibank and Bank of America had to resort to cheating, common sense tells that all is not well in the global economy.
It's certainly difficult for banks to continue to meet profit targets without resorting to exploitation when the majority of the people are getting poorer.
Even commercial banks in Malaysia have tightened their regulations in approving loans, especially for housing.
The recent depressing news on the economic and financial uncertainties in the US, Germany and China must be taken seriously. The economies of the big three are sneezing and the rest of the world are expected to also catch the cold from them.
Reuters reported from Washington on Nov 13 that policymakers scrambling to keep the world economy from settling into the "new mediocre" of sluggish growth can no longer rely on global trade to do the heavy lifting.
International trade helped the global economy tide over rough spots over two decades before the financial crisis, when it grew nearly twice as fast as economic output, but this engine is running out of fuel.
That is bad news for officials taking part in discussions at the International Monetary Fund and World Bank meetings this week, focused on preventing what International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde warns could be a long spell of sub-par performance for the global economy.
The impetus from China and Russia opening their doors and the emergence of global supply chains, linking factories in emerging markets with rich consumers in the developed world, has largely run its course, economists say.
"It's that particular engine which seems to have exhausted its propulsive energy for now," World Bank trade specialist Aaditya Mattoo said.
The McKinsey Global Institute calculates trade and cross-border financial flows contribute up to a quarter of global growth, leaving policymakers with a gaping hole to fill if trade shifts into a lower gear.
As the IMF cut its global growth outlook, it also forecast annual trade growth to average just 4.2 per cent in the 10 years starting in 2016, compared to 6.7 per cent in the decade leading up to the 2008-2009 financial crisis.
One reason for that downgrade is obvious enough; it is hard to replicate the effect of an economy of China's size tearing down trade barriers.
Malaysians must be reminded again to be prepared for the hard times and misery of a national and world financial and economic crisis.
Ng Kee Seng believes that God helps those who help themselves. In a healthy democracy, every Malaysian has a role in politics and nation-building.

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'Is PBB defending interest only of rich towkays?'

4:19PM Nov 25, 2014
By Joseph Tawie
Lawyer-cum-social activist Abun Sui Anyit today questioned Parti Pesaka  Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) whether it is defending  the rights  and the interests of Bumiputera or the interest of the already super rich towkays who own big logging companies.

“If PBB is defending the interest of  the big towkays then it confirms that PBB is a party of ‘pagar makan padi’ and all this while it was only cheating and misleading Bumiputeras abusing and misusing Bumiputera’s name,” he said, when replying to Assistant Minister and PBB Assemblyperson of Asajaya Abdul Karim Hamzah.

Abdul Karim (left) who slammed Abun Sui for leading a protest against the proposed Baram dam project last week described his move as a ‘political gimmick’.

He asked Abun Sui whether he really knew what he was objecting against or whether he really understood what the government was planning to do.

In a statement given to Malaysiakini, Abun Sui, who is the president of Gerakan anak Sarawak (GASAK) hit back at the PBB leader saying that as one of the victims of the dam project, he understood the suffering for losing their huge size of native customary rights (NCR) land.

“The affected people in Bakun are losing everything – their NCR land, cultural heritage and their way of life and so are the people in Batang Ai and Murum due to the dams.

“How are these dams benefiting them?” he asked, pointing out that only ministers like Abdul Karim and his bosses and a few big companies are allegedly  profiting from  mega dam projects.

Abun Sui who is a lawyer defending NCR landowners against the government, called on PBB to stop the dams and revoke the timber licences issued to the super rich companies especially over NCR land of Kampung Long Kesseh and Kampung Long Na’ah.

He believed PBB as the backbone of the Sarawak government is the one which issued licences to the timber companies in the Baram dam area and it is also the one which can revoke the licences.

“Please heed the cries of suffering from the Baram people,” he said.

Failure to heed the cries of the people has prompted him to ask whether PBB is only defending the interest of the super rich towkays who own big timber companies only.

He said that Abdul Karim and PBB ministers and leaders know the answer.

On November 15, 2014 GASAK members and some 60 Baram villagers led by Abun Sui demonstrated peacefully in front of the Forestry Department at Pelita Tunku in Miri protesting against the construction of the Baram dam project.

After the demonstration, they handed over a memorandum to the forest and police departments demanding the government to immediately stop the dam project.
~ Malaysiakini

PKR blames gov’t for coal mine incident

9:17AM Nov 26, 2014
Sarawak Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) put the blame on last Saturday’s Silantik coalmine disaster in Pantu, Sri Aman which claimed four lives and injured 30 others, on the authorities.

He said that the state authorities had ignored calls to conduct a thorough investigation into a similar incident two years ago.

“Two years ago we had urged the state government to look into the matter after four Chinese national coalminers lost their lives at the same coal mine.

“It is unfortunate that the call for a thorough investigation into that fatal incident and mitigation of environmental and social impacts was ignored,” said Sarawak PKR vice-chairperson See Chee How.

“Following the latest incident, PKR once again calls on the Chief Minister Adenan Satem to immediately order for the setting up of an independent investigation into the Silantik coal mine disaster which had taken the precious lives of three foreign workers and 30 others injured, of which 20 are said to be critical,” he said.

An Indonesian died yesterday at the Sarawak General Hospital, bringing the total number of deaths to four.

Of the 20 seriously injured, six of them were flown to peninsular Malaysia by RMAF mercy flight.

In a statement issued last night, See said that with this second fatal blast and fire accident, there is no more excuse for the state government to allow resumption of the mining activity in the said Silantik coal mine.

The mine operators have to stop their work pending a full and thorough independent investigation and that all necessary health and safety standards are put in place to ensure that there will be no more recurrence of such accidents.

See (right), who is the Batu Lintang assemblyperson, said that the commercial and industrial benefits including entrepreneurial revenue and gains arising from the exploitation and mining of natural resources, must always be balanced with environmental and social concerns including the health and safety of the workers, whether they are locals or foreigners.

The national Five-Fuel Policy (oil, gas, hydro power, coal and renewable energy) needs to be critically relooked at, especially in Sarawak, he said.

“There is an obvious present risk that Sarawak is sacrificing its future to satisfy such national needs.

“The irreparable depletion of oil and gas and the losses and damages to land caused by such hydro power dams and coal mining are certainly detrimental to the state’s future,” he said.

He suggested that the government should look into the exploitation of our coal mining policies, particularly to safeguard the little coal resource and reserve that are left, estimated at 1,724 million tonnes, of which only 16% were measured, 20% are indicated and two-thirds of them were only inferred.

“We therefore urge the state government to make use of this opportunity to look into the coal mining industry particularly and the energy industry as a whole.

“Of utmost importance now is the health and safety of the mining industry.” he said.

~ Malaysiakini

Urgent action needed to save Sarawak’s last intact forests


25 November 2014 – for immediate release

Urgent action needed to save Sarawak’s last intact forests

International body names Malaysian state “ground zero of deforestation“

(KUCHING, MALAYSIA) Last week, Adenan Satem, the new Chief Minister of the Malaysian state of Sarawak in Borneo, stunned the world by summoning six of the world's most powerful timber tycoons -  the heads of Rimbunan Hijau, Samling, Shin Yang, WTK, KTS and Ta Ann - and by compelling them to sign a corporate integrity pledge. The pledge, authored by the Malaysian Institute of Integrity, obliges corporations to refrain from bribery and corruption in all aspects of their operations.

According to journalists who attended the event, Adenan lashed out against the timber tycoons, calling them corrupt and warning them that he will “put the fear of God into people who are dishonest.“ While Adenan soon retracted these strong words, he reiterated that corruption and illegal logging in Sarawak were “very serious“ and that Sarawak needed more protected forest areas.

A turning point for Sarawak?

17 November 2014, the day of their public humiliation by the Chief Minister, must have been bitter for Sarawak’s timber giants who have earned billions of dollars under Adenan’s predecessor, the notorious Taib Mahmud. In particular Tiong Hiew King (ranked by Forbes at US$ 1.8 billion), the head of the world’s largest tropical timber conglomerate, Rimbunan Hijau, may have been reminded of the day in the mid-1970s when, all of a sudden, he had been arrested and jailed by a former Chief Minister.

But 17 November 2014 may also go down in history as a turning point for the state which was once called the “fair land Sarawak“ and has last week been labelled “ground zero of deforestation“ by REDD-Monitor, an international body based in Frankfurt, Germany.

Export of raw logs should be banned, forestry top officials replaced

While the Bruno Manser Fund commends the new Chief Minister’s resolve to fight corruption and combat illegal logging, pledges alone will not be enough to save Sarawaks’ threatened old-growth forests, which have been reduced to less than ten per cent of the state’s surface.

The Bruno Manser Fund calls on the Sarawak state government to instal a task force to deal with the urgent problems of timber corruption, deforestation and the loss of biodiversity - and to replace the state’s top officials who should have dealt with the current problems a long time ago but failed to do so.

An export ban on raw logs would be one of the easiest and potentially most efficient short-term measures that could be taken, as recently shown by timber-producing countries such as Myanmar or Gabon.

The export of raw logs contributes comparatively little to a state’s economy, both in terms of added value and employment. In 2010, Sarawak accounted for 25% of tropical log exports, despite the fact that only 0.5% of the world’s tropical forests are in Sarawak.

Transparency a pre-condition for the fight against illegal logging

Other measures that should be taken include the freezing of timber concessions over high-conservation value forests, the publishing of all forestry and plantation concessions in order to create transparency, as well as a comprehensive review of indigenous communities’ claims over the forests in the light of the latest court decisions on native rights.

It appears particularly important that indigenous communities who wish to protect their native lands from being logged or converted into plantations, such as in the Upper Baram’s “Penan Peace Park“, should be allowed to do so without restraints.

– Ends –

Bruno Manser Fund
Socinstrasse 37
4051 Basel / Switzerland

Penan headman sends 'SOS' to CM for help

11:22AM Nov 26, 2014
A Penan village headman Panai Irang of Kampung Sepatai Ba Abang Sungai Akah, Ulu Baram has sent an ‘SOS’ to the Chief Minister Adenan Satem and the authorities to stop the interhill logging company and its contractors from destroying their forest .

“The activities of the company will not only take away our timber which we use for our use, but they are poisoning our rivers which are the sources of our drinking water as well as the sources our fish supply,” said Panai.

Accompanied by his lawyer Abun Sui Anyit, Panai had lodged a police report on Sunday at the Long Lama police station. A copy of the report was received by Malaysiakini.

In the report he appealed to the chief minister, the Police and the Malaysian Anti-corruption Commission (MACC) to investigate the logging activities of the company and its contractors.

“I believe the company and its contractors are illegally encroaching into the forest in our area,” he alleged.

He said that the villagers are strongly against logging activities in the area as the rivers which are their sources of drinking water and their sources of fish supply will be polluted.

Moreover, the trees which they have felled would become rotten  and poisonous and this would become a health hazard to them.

Panai said that he had met with the camp manager of the company urging him to stop carrying out logging activities in the area, but he refused. Instead he accused the Penan of being liars.

He went to his lawyer, who advised him to lodge a police report.

Lately, rampant illegal logging activities in Sarawak have come to light following the directive given by the Chief Minister to investigate.

Several people have been arrested and thousands of logs worth millions of ringgit have been seized.

It was reported that the illegal logging has caused the government to incur losses of more than RM100 million in terms of revenue.

~ Malaysiakini

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Dayaks want 'Dayak' officially, not 'lain-lain'

9:00AM Nov 24, 2014
By Joseph Tawie
Several Dayak leaders want to be called ‘Dayak’ instead of ‘Bumiputera Sarawak’ in government official forms to replace the words ‘lain-lain’.

They fear Dayaks are being regarded as ‘second class’ bumiputera under that category.

“I strongly oppose the term ‘Bumiputera Sarawak ’ as I have strongly opposed the words ‘lain-lain’ as  the Dayaks will remain as ‘second class’ Bumiputera,” said lawyer and Ba’Kelalan assemblyperson Baru Bian when commenting on the BN youth resolution.

The BN youth on Saturday had called for the term ‘lain-lain’ to be removed immediately and replaced with the term ‘Bumiputera Sarawak’  or ‘Bumiputera Sabah’ in government forms to classify  either the Dayak or Kadazandusun.

Bian (left), who is Sarawak PKR chief, said the Dayaks should be classified according to their ethnicity specifically.

“Why do we have to classify Bumiputera Sarawak? Does the term also include the Malays? If yes, then the problem of second class bumiputera arises,” he said.

He said that unless the government put ‘Bumiputera Sarawak’ and specify and leave the space for those to put their race, then that should be alright.

“Otherwise, there will be problems and allegations of ‘first class’ bumiputera and ‘second class’ bumiputera in the future,” he said.

Expressing his concern, the president of the Dayak National Congress (DNC) Mengga Mikui also strongly objected to the term ‘Bumiputera Sarawak’ to classify the Dayaks in place of the term ‘lain-lain’.

He suggested the term should be ‘Dayak’ for natives from Sarawak and Sabah and be followed by their ethnic groups  such as ‘Dayak Iban, Dayak Bidayuh, Dayak Kayan, Dayak Kadazandusun, and so on and so forth.

Mikui said that it made no difference between the term ‘Bumiputera Sarawak’ and ‘lain-lain’. In fact the term ‘Bumiputera Sarawak’ is too vague.

Like DNC, the Sarawak Dayak Graduates Association said that it is time that the words ‘lain-lain’ should be replaced with the word ‘Dayak’.

“The policy to categorise the Dayaks as ‘lain-lain’ is one of the government policies that have become a stumbling block to Dayaks’ progress,” he said.

The word ‘Dayak’ should be most appropriate to replace ‘lain-lain’, he added.

Commenting on the same issue, a  native customary rights(NCR) activist Nicholas Bawin said that he had raised the issue  of ‘lain-lain’ at a forum organised by the National Unity Committee some years back.

“I told the forum how we could achieve unity when the Dayaks and Kadazandusuns are termed ‘lain-lain’. It is not in the law,” he said, expressing surprise that the BN youth are in the same wavelength with the opposition.

Bawin, who is the Lubok Antu PKR division chairperson, hoped the term ‘Dayak’ would be accepted by all.

Umno under threat, not Malays and Islam, forum told


Published: 25 November 2014

National laureate A. Samad Said says it is absurd for Malays and Islam to be under threat in Malaysia when all the positions of power are filled by Malays. – The Malaysian Insider pic by Nazir Sufari, November 25, 2014.

National laureate A. Samad Said says it is absurd for Malays and Islam to be under threat in Malaysia when all the positions of power are filled by Malays. – The Malaysian Insider pic by Nazir Sufari, November 25, 2014.
Malays and Islam are not under threat in Malaysia, it is Umno which is feeling the heat, a forum in Kuala Lumpur heard last night.
National laureate A. Samad Said asked how could Malays and Islam be under threat in Malaysia when all the positions of power were filled by Malays.
"All of Malaysia's past and present prime ministers, deputy prime ministers and even the home ministers have been Malays," Samad told a 200-strong crowd who turned up at the Mandarin Court hotel for the forum, "Are Malays and Islam under threat?"
Samad said from the early days of independence, Malays had occupied all the powerful and influential positions which decided Malaysia's direction.
"Look at the police and the military, Malays make up the majority, including all the high-ranking positions. So why are Malays and Islam under threat?
"The question of Malays and Islam coming under threat only pops up during general elections and Umno general assemblies," Samad said.
DAP adviser and Gelang Patah MP Lim Kit Siang concurred, adding that the only Malays under threat were the elite and Umno, following disappointing outings in the general elections of 2008 and 2013.
"It has been reported that Malays are in danger of becoming Red Indians like in the United States. But why are Malays staring at this possibility?
"This is a question which should be answered by the (all) six prime ministers (from Umno), including Datuk Seri Najib Razak," Lim said, adding that even former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad should reflect on his 22 years leading Malaysia and answer why Malays are in danger of becoming Red Indians.
Lim said the actual issue was not Malays and Islam under threat, what was actually under threat in Malaysia was all races and religions.
"Look at the international figures and rankings, it does not lie. Malaysia is in the top 50 of global terrorism rankings," Lim said.
"Our education figures are pathetic and slipping every year. Putrajaya should be focusing on this instead of practising hate politics and fear tactics."
Constitutional expert Dr Abdul Aziz Bari said the 2008 and 2013 general elections provided a clear answer to whether Malays and Islam were under threat.
"Umno is under threat. That is why Malay rights group, such as Perkasa and Isma, sprung up. Malays and Islam are safe," Aziz said.
"The lack of a two-thirds majority for Barisan Nasional means the government cannot simply make any changes in Parliament."
Aziz said he did not understand why Perkasa, Isma and Umno were behaving like madmen, constantly going on about Malay rights and Malays being under threat.
"The special rights and position of Malays are enshrined in the Federal Constitution. So why do these groups constantly focus on history?
"It is because Umno has failed to lift the Malays economically, that is why the position of the ruling coalition has come under threat."
Aziz also criticised former Chief Justice Tun Abdul Hamid Mohamad for saying Malays will be like Red Indians if PAS and Umno did not cooperate.
"Hamid does not understand history," Aziz said, warning that if PAS joined forces with Umno, there would be less checks and balances on Putrajaya.
"Look, even Najib is getting a headache over the attitude of some of the Umno members," Aziz said, to loud round of applause from the crowd.
PAS vice-president Datuk Husam Musa had a different view, saying he agreed that Islam and Malays were under threat.
"I disagree with putting Islam and Malays in the same breath, as Islam is above Malays," Husam said, explaining that Malays could not be above Islam.
"Why do I say Malays are under threat? It is because of the psychological war carried out by Umno and led by Isma and Perkasa," Husam said.
A month aftDAP adviser Lim Kit Siang says Umno leaders have a lot to answer for the 'threat' felt by Malays. – The Malaysian Insider pic by Nazir Sufari, November 25, 2014.DAP adviser Lim Kit Siang says Umno leaders have a lot to answer for the 'threat' felt by Malays. – The Malaysian Insider pic by Nazir Sufari, November 25, the 13th general election last year, Husam said a survey carried out by Merdeka Center showed that 26% of Malays felt they were under threat.
"However, after a strong propaganda effort by Barisan Nasional and Malay NGOs, a whopping 55% of Malays now indicate that they feel under threat."
Husam said the effect of the propaganda war could not be denied, the longer Umno continued to run Malaysia, the more Malays would feel like Red Indians.
"NGOs have been using Islam for racist issues, the religion has been used and expanded for political expediency," Husam said.
He said the major difference between PAS and Umno was that the former prioritised Islam while Umno prioritised Malays.
"Racial segregation is very evident in Barisan Nasional, in Malay-majority areas, only Malay leaders approach and talk to the voters.
"But Pakatan Rakyat is different, all the leaders will go down to the ground and talk to the crowd, whether they are Malay or non-Malay."
Husam said the formula of “KeMelayuan” practised by Putrajaya would not make Malays and Islam strong, but put them under threat.
Forum organiser, coordinator Edry Faizal told The Malaysian insider that the forum had been organised because it was an issue which involved the rakyat.
"Lim had raised the issue in Dewan Rakyat but nobody wanted to debate the matter. So we felt organising a forum was the next best thing.
"At least we would get direct questions from the rakyat and to start the ball rolling," Edry said after the forum.
Edry said the question of whether Islam and Malays were under threat was something which had been raised directly or implicitly by various groups, including Malay non-governmental organisations.
Activist Siti Kassim, who was present at the forum, told the panel that Malays like her were the real ones under threat.
"Islam has been used by political parties for their own benefit, that is the real issue and problem," she said.
"Malays and Islam are intertwined, when the subject of Islam is raised, Malays are hooked as well."
She said both PAS and Umno were equally guilty as both parties were attempting to be more Islamic than each other.
"Umno is simply reacting to PAS by trying to portray itself as being more Islamic than PAS," Siti said. – November 25, 2014.
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Malaysia reaping inequality, corruption and racial envy from race-based policies


Inequality in Malaysia now goes beyond race, says a prominent economist, who also pointed out the failure of Malaysia's affirmative action policies. – The Malaysian Insider file pic, November 25, 2014.
Inequality in Malaysia now goes beyond race, says a prominent economist, who also pointed out the failure of Malaysia's affirmative action policies. – The Malaysian Insider file pic, November 25, 2014.

Malaysia's affirmative action policies in the past 40 years have created a culture of dependency, corruption and racial envy, a prominent Malaysian economist said today.
‎Tan Sri Dr Kamal Salih, an adjunct professor of Economics and Development Studies at Universiti Malaya (UM) said that the‎ benefits of the development policies did not truly extend beyond the first 20 years of the New Economic Policy's (NEP) implementation.
"The problem over the decades involved has not been with the intent nor the content of the NEP and its successors, but the manner of their implementation, which have produced new inequalities, poverty and vulnerabilities in the development process.
"While no further progress has been made in reducing inequality in income distribution over the last decade, the NEP had resulted instead in creating a culture of dependency, corruption and racial envy."
Successive policies after the NEP, like the National Development Policy (NDP) and National Vision Policy (NVP), also had the same consequences as inequality in wealth distribution was not addressed, he said.
Kamal said this in his keynote speech at the launch of the Malaysia Human Development Report (MHDR) 2013‎ at the Pacific Regency Hotel in Kuala Lumpur today.
Kamal was the lead author of the report, which revealed that‎ the formation of the middle class was fastest during the implementation of the NEP in the 20-year period involved.
"However, throughout the entire‎ period until now, the size of the middle class... has remained relatively small for Malaysia, trending around the 20% when in comparison in a typical developed country situation, the percentage is closer to 50-55%."
He said the middle class was defined by the World Bank as those households positioned between 20% of the median income.
Kamal added that NEP-based ethnic classification was becoming less relevant when tackling equity in development, noting that inequality in Malaysia went beyond race.
The policies were aimed at bringing Malays and Bumiputeras to be on a par economically with other ethnic groups.
But the study showed that inequality had also grown within ethnic groups. Wealth gaps between ethnic groups as a whole did close, but resulted in the creation of a class divide.
"While the bottom 50% has wages/salaries making up 97% of their purchasing power, the upper part of the middle class would exhibit a similar pattern to the upper 50% with contribution from wealth effects approaching 11% and increasing as they climb the income ladder.
"In other words, on the basis of household fiscal capability Malaysia essentially exhibits a two-class social stratification, with inequality diminishing between ethnicities but within-group income gaps rising more and more to obliterate the NEP-based ethnic classification as a relevant issue of equity in development.
"Income inequalities then become essentially a question of class. This would be good news for some, while not so for others!"
He added that the New Economic Model's (NEM) emphasis on the bottom 40% overlooked "vertical and horizontal equity" in development, such as institutional issues, corruption and rent-seeking behaviour.
"In my view, a piecemeal and project-oriented approach will not do the job, only a comprehensive reform of policies and institutions will set the course of the country's development in its proper path onwards to economic growth and social justice." – November 25, 2014.
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